The Silver Lined Clouds Story: A Personal Testimony

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Dark clouds can appear unexpectedly in many formations, and in 2012 I faced a significant ominous health challenge for the first time in my life; on the day of my initial diagnosis I left the hospital as the sun was setting to see this amazing sky with silver-lined clouds; immediately as I observed the radiance of the image, the Holy Spirit impressed on me, “all will be well.” Having heard this encouraging word before I received the doctor’s recommendation for surgery and treatment, I knew I had to take a picture of the sky. At rush hour in the medical center, that was no small task! My view obstructed by buildings from every perspective, maneuvering around congested traffic, I managed to find a parking lot with a clear view of the sky and captured the silver-lined clouds to encourage me throughout my medical journey over the next few months. On the celebratingchrist.com Home page we superimposed the Star of Christmas to honor Jesus, our ultimate illumination and the “light of the world”.

Now five years later I have a very good medical report and no health challenges. Indeed, that “Spirit-inspired” prognosis was fulfilled! However, it was not achieved without changes in my life style. After treatment, I realized that I was essentially killing myself with over work and stress – part of the silver lining was in fact getting a wake-up call to that reality. Indeed, life-style changes were necessary to regain fitness. Pursuing a healthy diet was a goal I had set two years before when I joined Medishare, an awesome Christian health care cost sharing ministry. A great alternative to health insurance, the organization assigns a care coordinator when you are a patient who provided encouragement throughout my recovery – I consider the change from insurance to this Christian health sharing organization a God-send! I am excited that having continued my commitment to wellness, I am in better shape today than in 2012!

A Progressive Journey

None-the- less, it has been a progressive journey with some ups and downs, utilizing many resources along the way to attain my goals. First of all, I sought out an exercise coach for a few months to encourage me and receive feedback in areas requiring informed instruction – a lesson I learned from Medishare as they also provided a health coach for my dietary change goals which led me to be a vegetarian. I had to start with the basics, of course, and when ready to “raise the bar”, I added a weight lifting class to rebuild my pitifully weak upper-body and improve my bone density. For some of the exercises initially, I literally used only the weight of my arms! Gradually with persistent and regular exercise, I gained strength and developed muscles I forgot I had!

Today I continue weight lifting, though I had intervening setbacks requiring physical therapy. I experienced a shoulder injury unrelated to my exercise routine caused by a foolish attempt to play Hercules on a hiking trail – a trip to the doctor resulted in several months of physical therapy, during which I also discovered the value of massage therapy to release stress in my back muscles. The PT program taught me sound principles and basic exercises to keep the body fit, which I have adapted for ongoing fitness. Then a couple of years later I underwent surgery on the same shoulder for a lipoma that had grown beyond my ability to ignore it. Close to my neck and nerves, contemplating removal of the lipoma was a little scary, to say the least; I was reticent to undergo the knife once again, so throughout the year I consulted three surgeons before finally scheduling surgery. Fortunately, I selected a plastic surgeon accustomed to operating in “small spaces,” as the lipoma had little spidery tentacles imbedded and intertwined in my shoulder muscles and nerves – something that was not detectable prior to surgery! While that shoulder remains weaker than pre-surgery, I continue to work out to achieve full strength and motion.

Multi-faceted Wellness

In addition to strength-building, I accelerated my walking, a favored exercise for many years. While I always had a club, over the years I become so immersed in work that I lacked the time and energy to walk aggressively and consistently enough for true aerobic fitness. After surgery I had to start slowly, but quickly increased my time and aggressiveness on a treadmill. As part of my health care team, an integrated health physician shared some rather basic advice; when I factiously asked if he had a “pill” to ensure proper fitness, he responded, “your pill is to walk every hour on the hour.” That was an expensive reality check, but he certainly was direct and practical in his prescription so I put an hourly recurring message on my Outlook calendar to “walk”. It still pops up hourly whenever I am at my computer which is often, as a reminder to take my “walking pill”! I acquired a Fitbit to count steps and still wear one. It is another great feedback mechanism to keep on track, so to speak! At first, I was “religious” about checking and hitting my daily goal, but over the years have been a little less regimented about achieving the requisite daily steps, though I try to maintain a good weekly average and keep other activities in balance.

Always a New Challenge

Since we were planning an ultimate move to Flagstaff from Houston, I set a goal to climb Mt. Humphrey’s and adjusted my treadmill training to increase the grade from zero to 12 degrees, which is what I now use routinely – the way I look at it is, when on the treadmill I am always climbing the mountain! I set a goal to increase my heart rate to 165 and maintain that for 15 minutes or more. Having accomplished our relocation to a new home in Flagstaff in the summer of 2017, hiking and climbing is a weekly activity and I love to take my camera to capture the unique beauty of each trail I journey.

The year of preparation for the cross-country relocation was quite a disrupter – remodeling and selling our Houston home, building a new home, and sorting, dispensing and moving forty years of accumulated belongings; finally, the mission was accomplished and we love our new home in Flagstaff. The year plus process was physically demanding and of course disrupted my exercise routines, but I have begun once again to implement all the elements for health and fitness.

Your Wellness Journey

Each person has a unique physical and health journey, so your challenges, needs and goals may be totally different from mine. The important thing to realize is that you too can change your current wellness status by self-evaluation, setting goals and committing to the changes you desire to achieve life balance and wellness. For me the most important motivator was the realization that as a Christian, I am the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. To honor Him it is my responsibility to care for His temple. In addition, while I love my work, being a workaholic was not achieving balance, and realistically I was not as productive as I could have been because I was stressing and wearing myself out. No one can work for 10 or 12 hours a day forever without suffering negative consequences. Now I am more productive in fewer hours and enjoy good health and life balance.

Help is on the Way

One of the techniques that enabled me in my wellness journey was the Whole Life Profile (WLP), a Harrison Assessments resource which is now one of my wellness and consulting offerings. First introduced to it shortly after implementing my “healthy life plan”, it was instrumental in revealing both my imbalances and motivators to achieve improved balance and wellness. It is like looking in a mirror to see and understand one’s preferences, to consider how they impact your life balance and relationships, and to create a plan for change in the five primary life dimensions – financial, psychological, relational, spiritual and of course physical.

Stages, transitions and challenges in life and work present opportunities to gain new perspective, increase self-awareness and develop a plan of action to achieve the goals you set for your next phase of life’s journey. You may like to consider the Whole Life Profile and workshop to facilitate your own wellness journey.

Look for the Silver Lining

After confronting a significant business transition within months of my health challenge, I retook the Whole Life Profile a year later and gained additional insight for that challenging situation. In fact, it is noteworthy to mention that my “dark cloud” health challenge was a blessing in disguise, as it foreshadowed the even greater gathering storm clouds of my business transition. The Lord foreknew the need for me to regain health and strength for the stressful and all-consuming legal battle that ensued over my business and future. Resolved a year later, my business transition involved selling my global brand, changing my business model and rebranding, a multi-year endeavor. I believe the “silver lining” of my health cloud had an additional hidden prophetic message of restoration following my stormy business transition. You may like to consider obtaining one of our celebratingchrist.com “Silver-lining products” as a personal daily reminder to look for the silver-lining in the dark-cloud incidents in your life journey or to encourage a friend or family member.

Develop Your Support Network

Whatever your life challenges, wherever your journey takes you, along the way are individuals to support, guide, and encourage you. Reach out to them for help as there is surely someone who has experienced and overcome a similar challenge. The ultimate guide and comforter is Christ Himself as He promised, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

By Sheryl Dawson
December, 2017

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